Topic: Sports

Last updated: March 24, 2019

Arousal is defined as the “readiness of an individual to perform something that has then motivated them to behave in a certain way”. Arousal happens mentally within a person and when someone is aroused their breathing may become quicker, their heart rate might increase quickly, sweating and feeling sick, may start to feel nervous or under pressure, lots of adrenaline is produced and mouth may become dry.

Relationship between arousal and performance

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You need the right level of arousal (“readiness”) to perform an activity.

Sports with different levels of arousal needed to perform well.

Archery- within archery the performer needs their arousal levels to be quite relatively low as they need to be calm and collective when performing in their sport.

Rugby- Within rugby an individual’s arousal levels need to be much higher which makes them more energised and focussed

Football- An individual must maintain their arousal levels just right when taking a penalty.

There are three theories which shows how arousal/stress affects a person’s sporting performance.

Drive theory
The drive theory is a theory that shows the relationship both between arousal and performance and suggests that no matter what happens when arousal increases within an individual so does the overall quality of their performance.

This is not accurate to a certain extent mainly because it shows the graph can go on and on meaning it shows no end point. With there being no end point this means that you can become too aroused and not in the right zone to perform well although we need some arousal for everyday things such as getting up to have a shower in the morning. If arousal continues to increase and increase something has got to give and level off at a certain point otherwise someone will mentally explode.

•But, before quality of performance can increase, the skill must be “grooved in” or overlearned, so drive theory only really applicable to high-skills performance in autonomous stage.
•Wouldn’t work for a cognitive learner as they may not produce the right response (low quality of performance) even if levels of arousal were high.
•Advantages: shows clearly the linear relationship between arousal level and performance quality.
•Disadvantages: doesn’t give any indication of the consequences of over arousal, and also implies that a person’s performance and arousal have no limitations because the graph shows that both just continues to increase.


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